GregHorrorShow: The TV Of 2016

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As Netflix’s dominance over TV continues, it was interesting to see traditional TV’s reaction and what type of shows they would bring to the table in response. 2016 saw some great new shows across the formats and I found myself torn between lots of different programmes.

In fact I have to admit I started a lot more shows than I managed to finish! So in this first section I’ll be looking solely at shows that I haven’t seen the whole season of…

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SHOWS TO BE CONTINUED…

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Luke Cage looks set to follow in the steps of the superb Jessica Jones and deliver a gritty, cool superhero story. I’m loving what I’ve seen so far. Glitch is an interesting series about a group of people that come back from the dead in a small Australian town. It seems to be hitting the right notes, even if the acting is a little ‘hammy’ at times. A recording issue halted my run through of Mr Robot halfway through but that has been great and is definitely something I’ll return to, likewise the second season of Wayward Pines – which took an interesting turn after the conclusion of the first season. The second season of Daredevil didn’t really grab me and the introduction of Elektra did not feel like it raised the stakes unfortunately. We are still partway through season 2 of The Librarians and I still find it to be a great ‘popcorn’ show with some cool episode ideas.

 


 

In terms of new shows the main highlights were the 80’s inspired Stranger Things and the AI driven Westworld. Stranger Things delivered a brilliant mix of strong acting and a huge dose of nostalgia. Westworld told a great story that asks some interesting questions, especially as a gamer, but ultimately felt like it just took too long to get there. Again the acting was great and the CGI was among the best I’ve seen. The Shannara Chronicles was an interesting idea, mythical creatures roaming the Earth long after current civilizations have been eradicated. It wasn’t the best show I’ve seen but it certainly wasn’t the worst. Similarly, The Magicians (based on the best selling novel series) followed a similar path and while it had a few great moments it just didn’t grab me.

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I adored iZombie, with seasons 1 and 2 arriving on UK Netflix this year. It also takes my award for Episode Of The Year with ‘Astroburger’, an episode that contains, for me, one of the most brutal TV gut punches in recent history. I won’t spoil it but man, that was some jaw dropping stuff. Both Blindspot and The Blacklist returned and they delivered as expected, though the former got off to a rough start with an underwhelming opening episode.

Quantico was a fun show that focused on the FBI training academy and the betrayal of it’s students during a terror attack. 12 Monkeys returned and continued to impress as one of the few shows out there that actually grasps the fundamentals of time travel. I really enjoyed how things developed in the second season and thought it was great to see Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire) used to better effect.

Orphan Black‘s fourth season delved deeper into the rabbit hole and what a season it was. It was also great to (finally) see Tatiana Maslany rewarded with an Emmy for her ridiculously amazing work on the show. The second, and as it turns out final, season of Agent Carter dropped off a bit and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I felt it didn’t quite live up to expectations after the great first season. Still sad to see it cancelled though.

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Best New Show

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This year it has to be Stranger Things. Arriving pretty much out of nowhere to be one of the most talked about TV events of 2016. A wonderful performance from all the cast was spearheaded by Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown. Dustin was also great and the story was well told and enjoyable. The only downside was the poor treatment of Barb  😦

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Best Show

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No doubt here either as iZombie fast became one of my favourite shows of recent years. The mix of pop culture references and fast wit should be expected from the creator of Veronica Mars but the show hits so many high notes that I enjoyed every episode. Great performances and a strong main concept mean I’m really looking forward to season 3 in 2017. Also props for the Millwall mention, never thought my team’s name would be uttered on a big US TV show!

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GregHorrorShow: The TV Of 2015

TV 2015 Blacklist

What a year it’s been for TV, with traditional television production companies feeling the heat from new shows made for Netflix – it’s certainly an interesting time and the only clear winner is the consumer, as we get tons of amazing new shows to watch!

Before we launch into those new (and returning) shows, let’s take a look at some older stuff I caught up on that I’d recommend.

I mentioned both of these last year and I’ve stuck with them – A Town Called Eureka (Season 3) and Arrow (Season 2). Both shows deliver a nice dose of light hearted escapism, although Arrow did tread a few darker paths in it’s 2nd season. I also delved into Continuum‘s first season, which is a wonderfully cheesy sci-fi romp involving a group of time-traveling criminals and the cop stranded in the past trying to catch them!

TV 2015 Fringe

However the award for most captivating show I’d missed first time around it goes to Fringe, of which I devoured the entire 5 seasons in the course of the year! A cross between the X-Files and Warehouse 13, it lost its way a little in Season 4 but finished strong and the White Tulip episode is one of the finest episodes of TV I’ve ever seen. I know it’s old but that takes this year’s title for Best Episode.

Wow, with new shows where do I start?!

Well, I absolutely loved Agent Carter, which is a fantastically stylised trip through an alternate 1940’s in which Peggy Carter spends her time tracking down top secret weapons and generally kicking ass. It was a short season but I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the show returning in January. Sticking with Marvel, I thought Daredevil finished strong but it seemed to take an age to get there, I really had to stick with it as those first 5 or 6 episodes involved a lot of set up. It was worth it in the end and the characters came into their own in the second half of the season.

TV 2015 Agent Carter

Rounding out the Marvel trilogy is Jessica Jones which is truly amazing TV. I’m only halfway through the season as I write this but it’s one of the best things I’ve seen in a while. This is a superhero show that tackles some really heavy issues and doesn’t shy away from any of them. Also it’s a private eye with superpowers – just… genius.

On a completely different superhero vibe, Supergirl is midway through it’s first season and it’s been quite enjoyable, if a little light. There’s a good dynamic between the characters but this is at the other end of the spectrum to Jessica Jones or Daredevil – Supergirl is definitely more of a Saturday afternoon kind of show! Sens8 arrived this year and The Wachowskis (of The Matrix fame) delivered an experience that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. It was a fun, if at times confusing, tale of 8 individuals from around the world that are psychically linked. It certainly looked great, especially with it being shot in different locations across the globe.

TV 2015 Newsroom

I thoroughly enjoyed the final season of The Newsroom, which arrived too late for last year’s round up. The cast, as always, delivered some superb episodes and the writing was as sharp as ever. What a fantastic show and while I was disappointed it was finishing, it was the right time to go out. Defiance also wrapped up this year and while this season was stronger than the last, it also felt like the right moment to end the show. I appreciated the return to form of some of the main characters but it was hard to maintain the impact that first season had.

I managed to catch both Season 2 and Season 3 of the amazing Orphan Black this year. As the story becomes more complex I just come to appreciate the characters even more and especially the performance of actress Tatiana Masley – who plays the majority of roles in the show. I can’t wait for Season 4, which should be great fun judging by how this season ended! I also got stuck into the first season of Gotham, which I think is a great idea for a show and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take it from here.

TV 2015 Blindspot

Blindspot was another highlight for me – the story of a woman with amnesia, covered in tattoos that lead the FBI to different clues and cases as they try to work out who she is and why she landed on their doorstep. The Blacklist returned for its third season and although we only got the first half of it this year it was quite something. Consistently one of the, if not the, best show on my television, it always brings great storylines and solid character development. And well, Raymond Reddington – who is one of the best anti-heroes in recent TV history. Shout out also to the music supervisor on The Blacklist, this season has been fantastic on the soundtrack front.

The Middle continues to entertain and, along with New Girl, remains my go-to light, half hour shows. Also keeping things light were Castle (Season 7) and Haven (Season 5), with the latter coming to the end of its run this season. Firstly Castle though, and as usual the cast keep that close-knit chemistry going which really helps to keep you interested in the show. There were a few lulls over the course of the season and the stuff about Castle going missing turned out to be a bit of a waste of time in my opinion. I did enjoy it though and look forward to more cop/writer adventures soon.

TV 2015 Librarians

Haven got back to form in its final season and concentrating on the main trio of characters was definitely a wise move. It was a shame to see it end but it had a good run across the five seasons it was on our screens. Another light hearted show I’ve been enjoying is The Librarians (Season 2) which is such wonderful, silly fun and a perfect replacement for formerly watched shows like Warehouse 13 or Charmed. This season has definitely been improved and the writing has come on leaps and bounds.

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BEST NEW SHOW

TV 2015 Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones just about steals it for 2015. It was a tough choice this year and became a three way fight between Jessica Jones, Agent Carter and Blindspot. All three have their plus points and I really enjoyed all of them. For me though, Jessica Jones was a real breath of fresh air. So much darker than I imagined and with an awesome twist on the gumshoe detective genre, it was my favourite new show this year.

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BEST SHOW

TV 2015 Orphan Black

It could only be Orphan Black. I love this show so much and having the benefit of two seasons in one year gave it the edge. It was this or The Blacklist. Both are unbelievable TV and both find me desperately wanting to see the next episode as soon as possible. Orphan Black tells a complex tale but it is well worth sticking with – the pay off is just too good. The characters, the situations… brilliant.

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So what have you guys been watching, let me know what else I should be checking out below or give me a shout on Twitter – @greghorrorshow

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GregHorrorShow: The TV of 2014

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It’s been a decent year for TV with plenty of new shows to get stuck into, with some great performances thrown in for good measure.

Let’s begin with some shows I missed out on before. Superheroes are very much in fashion and so it was no surprise to see TV networks bringing characters to the small screen and I genuinely wasn’t expecting to like Arrow (Season 1) as much as I did. Of course it’s cheesy at times but the cast is strong and once the team of Oliver, Diggle and Felicity came together the show motored to a strong conclusion. I do love a good SyFy production and having finally got around to checking out A Town Called Eureka (Seasons 1 and 2), I can see why people were raving about it. It’s a really fun show and a nice easy watch, which reminds me of Warehouse 13.

TV 2014 Arrow

I’m still catching up on Homeland (Season 3) which is as great as ever and Bones (Season 5) continues to deliver consistently strong episodes. But my one of my favourite new shows is the exceptional Orphan Black (Season 1) which is my perfect mix of thriller and sci-fi. Tatiana Maslany is superb and having to play so many different characters makes her performance so impressive.

As for new programmes I’m really enjoying True Detective, what inspired casting to pair up Matthew McConnaughy and Woody Harrelson. For me McConnaughy’s performance as Russ is one of the highlights of the year. Hostages also impressed, with the novel idea of a surgeon’s family being taken hostage until she murders the President during a routine operation. On a more light hearted note Forever has managed to fill the gap between seasons of Castle quite nicely. It’s seems a little bit all over the place at times but it’s generally enjoyable and an easy watch.

TV 2014 Hostages

I had high hopes for The Spoils Of Babylon, Will Ferrell’s ‘Darkplace-esque’ spoof of 1970’s US TV. With an all star cast including Tobey Maguire, Kristen Wiig, Jessica Alba and Val Kilmer (among others) it started strong but outstayed it’s welcome by 2 or 3 episodes if I’m being honest. The Tomorrow People had an interesting premise with a few nice twists along the way but in the end collapsed under the weight of taking itself too seriously.

While it’s only just started I’ve enjoyed a few episodes of The Librarians, the spin off show from the movie trilogy of the same name. I mean it basically *is* Warehouse 13 but hopefully it can tread it’s own path while keeping a similar, easy going tone. I also thoroughly enjoyed Awake, which only lasted a season but wrapped with a good conclusion and is well worth checking out if you get the chance. Jason Isaacs delivers a really strong performance as a man who wakes each day in alternate realities, one where he and his son survived a car accident and another where he and his wife survived.

TV 2014 Blacklist

2014 saw a host of my favourite shows return – Castle, Defiance and Haven all shone as per usual. Defiance was a little darker than last season which made it a bit of a harder watch at times but Tony Curran was superb as the wonderfully unhinged Datak Tarr. Emily Rose in Haven deserves some serious credit for managing to play two roles and keep them different enough to be convincing in both. The Blacklist came back and picked up exactly where it left off, even throwing a few more side character issues into the mix for good measure. I love this show, James Spader is just so good in his role as Raymond Reddington – another good example of a film actor transitioning to the small screen.

The Middle moved to a new home on Comedy Central and I felt the show managed to transition seamlessly. There were some stand out episodes and with Axel away at college we got to explore Sue and Brick a little more deeply. New Girl managed to handle the age old sitcom issue of two characters getting together very well without disrupting the overall group chemistry. This was the show’s best season since the original run back in 2011.

TV 2014 WH 13

True Blood and Nikita both came to an end this year and I really felt that neither came to a satisfactory ending. In both cases the final seasons felt a little rushed and all over the place, although I did appreciate the finality of the True Blood ending at least. And we finally had to say goodbye to Warehouse 13 after 5 great seasons, what a great show, possibly one of my favourite ever TV shows, and they went out with a bang as expected.

I genuinely couldn’t pick between these two for favourite episode this year, both were great but with very different tones. In Warehouse 13’s “Savage Seduction”, Pete and Myka “fall in” to the TV and become characters of a Latino Soap Opera which was great fun and continued the Warehouse 13 tradition of putting the characters well outside their comfort zones! For Castle’s “Disciple” it was a gripping episode where murder victims who look exactly like Lanie and Esposito freak the gang out.

And just to confirm the winners 🙂

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Best New Show: True Detective

TV 2014 True Detective

 

Best Show: Castle

TV 2014 Castle

There are still shows sitting on my planner that I need to get to – The Newsroom (Season 3), Fargo, and The Intruders to name a few and that’s without a new season (4) of Homeland and House Of Cards (Season 2) to get stuck into!

What have you guys been watching? Any recommendations?

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GregHorrorShow: TV Awards 2013

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I found myself with not that many new shows to watch this year, my TV calendar taken up by new series of my favourite shows – never a bad thing but it would’ve been nice to catch some newer stuff as well.

I’ve added in a new category this year as well for best episode, which will hopefully highlight some of my favourite TV moments from the year.

There are still a few series I want to watch but just haven’t got around to yet (Justified/Breaking Bad/Arrow etc.) but here are my picks from what I watched in 2013

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BEST NEW SHOW

TVDefiance

Winner: Defiance

Defiance is a sci-fi show set on a future Earth where aliens and humans live together in an uneasy alliance. This is a great show for some complete escapism and the characters are funny and well fleshed out. With an interesting array of alien races and the culture clashes that invariably flare up, Defiance is well written and nicely shot. Very enjoyable and I’m looking forward to season 2 hitting the UK next Summer. Netflix have made a play for the TV market this year, bringing exclusive shows and content to the service, the best of which was political thriller House Of Cards. Kevin Spacey shines as the corrupt Francis Underwood and while the breaking of the fourth wall is a little cheesy at times, it totally fits with the character. Revolution began well but fell away and The Blacklist started with a bang and doesn’t look like letting up.

Runners Up:

  • House Of Cards
  • The Blacklist
  • Revolution

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BEST COMEDY SHOW

TVNewGirl

Winner: New Girl

New Girl takes it again this year, following another great season. This is, for me, a perfect popcorn half hour show that I can enjoy, laugh and relax while watching. There’s a great chemistry between the cast and the show certainly has a natural flow, which is appealing. The Middle continues it’s good run with another strong season and I really enjoyed Cuckoo – more for Greg Davies than anything else but it was good fun. I’m also late to the party with this last one but I finally got around to starting Archer which is fairly juvenile for the most part but a nice take on the Bond superspy mythos.

Runners Up:

  • The Middle
  • Cuckoo
  • Archer

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BEST SOUNDTRACK

TVNewsroomOST

Winner: The Newsroom

Last year I found the soundtrack to The Newsroom a little too ‘on-the-nose’ lyrically a lot of the time. This season they avoided that for the most part and the use of The Who’s ‘You Better Bet’ had me digging out my greatest hits and playing it over and over again. Haven came strong with it’s score as did Nikita but this year it’s the licensed music that stood out.

Runners Up:

  • Haven
  • Homeland
  • Nikita

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BEST EPISODE

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Winner: Castle – ‘The Lives Of Others

What a way to mark 100 episodes! A ‘Rear Window’ special that saw Richard Castle incapacitated just like James Stewart in Hitchcock’s classic 1954 film. Handled in just the right way this was one of my favourite episodes of a TV show period. Keeping that Noir vibe Warehouse 13‘s ‘The Big Snag’ episode was great fun and saw Pete and Myka transported into a 1940’s crime novel 🙂 On a more serious note The Newsroom‘s ‘Unintended Consequences’ episode where Maggie recounts her harrowing Uganda experience was excellent but heavy stuff. Homeland came in hard with ‘I’ll Fly Away’ which saw Brody hit breaking point and recover only to be whisked away mysteriously (and against his will). A thrilling episode.

Runners Up:

  • Warehouse 13 – ‘The Big Snag’
  • Homeland – ‘I’ll Fly Away’
  • Newsroom – ‘Unintended Consequences’

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ACTOR OF THE YEAR (TV)

TVNewsroomJeffDaniels

Winner: Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)

Sometimes it still surprises me that this is the same Jeff Daniels from Dumb and Dumber, such is the contrast between his role there and here. As Will McAvoy he plays it cool but with a subtle hint of simmering anger just beneath the surface. He had some juicy storylines this season and he is totally believable in the role. Nathan Fillion‘s Richard Castle is a highlight as always and while Damian Lewis shone for some of the 2nd season of Homeland I thought he had less impact this time out. Nod to Eric Balfour as Duke Croker in Haven who I felt really came into his own during the latest season.

Runners Up:

  • Eric Balfour (Haven)
  • Nathan Fillion (Castle)
  • Damian Lewis (Homeland)

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ACTRESS OF THE YEAR (TV)

TVClaireDanes

Winner: Claire Danes (Homeland)

Claire Danes brings such a ferocity to her role as Carrie that it’s hard to look too far past her when picking Actress Of The Year. She continued where she left off last year and took the viewer with her on the emotional rollercoaster of season 2. She has the ability to make you feel for her character, regardless of whether you agree with what she’s doing – which is always a powerful tool for an actor. Alison Pill probably came the closest to Danes, her harrowing storyline was told via her behaviour long before the details emerged – as well as an extreme haircut she was struggling to contain everything emotionally in a fantastic performance. Emily Rose, as usual, delivered in Haven and Joanne Kelly handled a serious plotline in a perfect way for her character in Warehouse 13.

Runners Up:

  • Joanne Kelly (Warehouse 13)
  • Emily Rose (Haven)
  • Alison Pill (The Newsroom)

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TV Show Of The Year

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Winner: The Newsroom

It’s always difficult to pick a winner for Show Of The Year when there are so many great shows on TV at the moment. I love a lot of the sci-fi stuff like Haven and Warehouse 13 but also lighter stuff like Castle or Nikita. And that’s not to mention more tense programmes like Homeland or The Blacklist. But the one show that has excelled, again, with it’s writing, directing and acting has been The Newsroom. Aaron Sorkin’s writing is superb and with the season being only 10 episodes long it has left me craving more. I can’t wait to see more of this next year.

Runners Up:

  • Warehouse 13
  • Castle
  • Homeland

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There were other shows I enjoyed this year, such as True Blood and Marvel: Agents Of Shield (which I only saw a few episodes of) but they just didn’t come close to any of the winners above.

What have you guys been watching? Any recommendations?

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GregHorrorShow: TV Awards 2012

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A lot of my favourite shows returned in 2012 and a few new upstarts arrived on the block.

So let’s get going – here are the GregHorrorShow TV Awards for 2012 🙂

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BEST NEW SHOW

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Winner: Homeland

Homeland exploded onto our screens early in the year, following lots of press and column inches from the US. For once the hype was justified and its tale of a returning P.O.W from the Middle East had us all gripped through the entire series. Big nod to The Newsroom, which is now one of my favourite shows of recent years and also to great new comedy New Girl, which has been fantastic. Unfortunately my curse of supporting shows that don’t make it to a second season continued as the excellent Alcatraz was canned at the end of it’s run.

Runners Up:

  • The Newsroom
  • Alcatraz
  • New Girl

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BEST COMEDY SHOW

NewGirlComedy

Winner: New Girl

Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl was another show that lived up to the excitement surrounding it, no mean feat when it comes to comedy. Sometimes things get lost in translation between US and UK comedy so it was refreshing that this one was so good. And it’s not just Deschanel, all of the main characters are really well written. Raising Hope goes from strength to strength and The Middle continues to impress. The Big Bang Theory has become the new Friends, every time I switch to E4 it’s on… which isn’t a bad thing.

Runners Up:

  • Raising Hope
  • The Middle
  • The Big Bang Theory

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BEST SOUNDTRACK

HavenMusic

Winner: Haven – Shawn Pierce

Traditionally this award has gone to a licensed soundtrack of existing tracks but Shawn Pierce’s wonderful, creepy score for Haven compliments the show so well it deserves some recognition. As Haven builds towards the close of the second season (here in the UK at least) the score stands out more and more. You check out some clips here.

Runners Up:

  • The Middle
  • New Girl
  • The Newsroom

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ACTOR OF THE YEAR (TV)

HomelandLewis

Winner: Damian Lewis – ‘Nicholas Brody’ (Homeland)

It’s hard to look beyond Lewis this year because his performance as Brody is just so believable. A truly fantastic piece of acting. However he was run close by Jeff Daniels as grumpy, troubled Will McAvoy in The Newsroom. Another commanding performance and I sometimes have to remind myself that this is the same guy from Dumb and Dumber! As Artie started to crumble in Warehouse 13, Saul Rubinek really delivered and Lafayette in True Blood, played by Nelsan Ellis, is still one of my favourite characters on TV.

Runners Up:

  • Jeff Daniels – Will McAvoy (The Newsroom)
  • Saul Rubinek – ‘Artie Nielsen’ (Warehouse 13)
  • Nelsan Ellis – ‘Lafayette’ (True Blood)

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ACTRESS OF THE YEAR (TV)

HomelandDanes

Winner: Claire Danes – Carrie Mathison (Homeland)

Again it’s Homeland that takes the award as Claire Danes really gave us a performance to remember. As Carrie disappeared down the rabbit hole Danes’ acting was absolutely stunning – I think some of the besting acting I’ve seen. Allison Scagliotti, as Claudia Donovan, had a much larger role to play in Warehouse 13 this year and Stana Katic delivered once again as Kate Beckett struggled to readjust to life on the force in Castle. Audrey has been dealing with revelation after revelation in Haven and Emily Rose gives a brilliant, emotionally driven performance.

Runners Up:

  • Allison Scagliotti – ‘Claudia Donovan’ (Warehouse 13)
  • Stana Katic – ‘Kate Beckett’ (Castle)
  • Emily Rose – ‘Audrey Parker’ (Haven)

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TV SHOW OF THE YEAR

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Winner: The Newsroom

As much as Homeland dominated in terms of performances and storytelling, the one show I starting looking forward to more than any other was The Newsroom. Setting it just a year prior to current events meant that things felt fresh but the audience also knew how things would eventually pan out. As mentioned above Jeff Daniels is great but Alison Pill as Maggie and Sam Waterston as Charlie were brilliant. Also a big shout out to Olivia Munn who I only knew as a presenter of G4’s ‘Attack Of The Show’ for proving she’s a strong actress as well. It’s not afraid to pull any punches, which is why I think The Newsroom has proved so popular.

Runners Up:

  • Warehouse 13
  • Haven
  • Homeland

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So there we go, another year of TV over. What have you guys been watching?

Just one more set of awards to go now – the GregHorrorShow Game Awards for 2012 should be live on Monday so keep an eye out!

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The Year (So Far) In TV…

There has been a lot of really great TV around this year and the schedules are already looking packed all the way up until Christmas. I’ve found myself lining up more and more shows to watch, which is always a good thing in my opinion!

So here’s a recap of what’s been catching my attention.

I’m just four episodes into The Newsroom and I can already tell you it’s a contender for show of the year. Aaron Sorkin knows how to write a fantastic group of characters and he replicates the formula he had on Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip to great effect. Telling the story of a group of people that work on a news programme, the content here is more political and, for want of a better word, serious. I sometimes feel like the only one in the UK who doesn’t watch trashy, ‘reality’, fame obsessed TV shows and the attitude taken by Will and the gang echoes how I feel… but sadly this hasn’t spilled over into real life yet.

While some have their trash TV in the form I mentioned above, I’m a sucker for a good sci-fi or supernatural drama. While waiting on new seasons of Warehouse 13 and Haven, I checked out Alcatraz. The premise is wonderfully goofy – Alcatraz (the prison) was never shut down, everyone who was on the island just disappeared one night. And now in present day they are reappearing. Continuing my tradition of backing the wrong (albeit excellent) horse (see Dollhouse/Tru Calling/Firefly/Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles/Bored To Death etc) Alcatraz was not renewed for a second season, so we’ll never find out what the hell was actually going on!

True Blood hit season 4 and, again, improved on the previous series. For season 5 I’m hoping they continue to toy with some of the political/social themes of the Vampires and Humans co-existing that they touched on here. Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette, is still the best thing in this show as far as I’m concerned and he looks set to have a big part in the upcoming season.

We’re only a few episodes into the latest season of Nikita but the storyline has already reached some fantastically outrageous heights. The way Nikita and Michael were saved (and by whom) in the opening episode had me chuckling away in disbelief and I almost wished I’d had a bag of popcorn on my lap. But then that’s why I love the show, all the crazy gadgets and cloak ‘n dagger ‘espionage’. I suspect this is what you’d get if you mixed a TV soap with the Splinter Cell games… which can only be a good thing 🙂

Kate Beckett and Richard Castle returned to our screens as Castle also hit season 4. The relationship between the cop and writer is strained this season which has made for a good change of dynamic. Ryan, Esposito, Lanie and Alexis getting more screen time has also made for a deeper narrative all round.

My big disappointments were Touch and Alphas. Alphas (about a secret agency of people with special powers) started well enough but went downhill so suddenly that I never made it to the end of the series, skipping out on the last few episodes. Touch didn’t even last that long – it was about halfway through when I bailed on that one. Again not a bad idea but I think they could’ve done so much more with it, rather than just producing the same story each time. I also didn’t think Kiefer Sutherland was strong enough to carry the show, perhaps with a better supporting cast (although I’ll exclude Danny Glover from that) it might have grabbed me more?

One programme that did grab me and refused to let go until it was over was Homeland. The story of a soldier returning to the US after 8 years as a prisoner of war and a government agency’s suspicion he might’ve been ‘turned’ while there was thoroughly brilliant. Well written and clever with some outstanding acting performances (Claire Danes and Damian Lewis in particular) Homeland is one of the better shows I’ve seen in the last two or three years.

US comedy has been strong in 2012 with both The Middle and Raising Hope bringing their madcap antics back to our screens. If you need to just unwind and watch something that will make you laugh these two do a great job – and if you have kids The Middle in particular will remind you why we go through the hard times for the little ones. New Girl has also made it’s way over the pond and has become one of my favourite comedies on TV at the moment. It has just the right mix of wit and slapstick with a great cast and some clever writing. While Zooey Deschanel as Jess is the star of the show, Schmidt (played by Max Greenfield) is close to stealing it – great stuff.

On the UK front I’ve found things a bit less impressive. Dirk Gently was good fun and I’d certainly watch more of it if it returns. Based on the Douglas Adams novels it’s about a detective who believes he’ll solve every crime by effectively just poking around and seeing what happens – all the while bumbling into clues that unravel the case. I gave Eternal Law a shot but the story of two angels who come to Earth as lawyers was so over sentimental and just poorly written that it didn’t stand much chance.

So there we go, looking back it’s been a great first half (or so) of 2012 and I’m hoping for some more great new shows to accomapny returning favourites such as Warehouse 13 and Haven.

What have I missed TV-wise? Have you seen any of the above shows and agree/disagree?

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‘An Idiot Abroad’ by Karl Pilkington – Review (Book)

‘An Idiot Abroad’ is the book that accompanies the excellent TV series of the same name that saw Karl Pilkington, a not very well travelled Englishman, being sent abroad to visit some of the wonders of the world.

As I have mentioned before (indeed it won ‘Best Factual’ in my TV Awards in 2010) the series was great fun and it definitely did show you a different side to the wonders of the world.

Told from Karl’s perspective the book gives you some further insight into just what was going through his mind while all this madness was going on around him. Whether it’s the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal, you can guarantee it won’t be a straight forward affair – especially as it’s Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant that are planning the trips for him.

So if you’ve seen Karl in action on TV already, do you need to check out this book?

Unfortunately, almost all of the best bits of the book will be stuff you’ve already seen which obviously dampens the impact and to some extent the enjoyment of them.

I wouldn’t recommend reading ‘An Idiot Abroad’ if you’ve seen the show however for those of you with no plans to view it, this is a good, solid read that is worth checking out.

Rating: 7/10

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